Updated: Jul 18
Weight lifting is essential If you want to get stronger or build muscle, and at some point you’re going to need to lift heavier weights in order for your muscle to continue to grow..
After all, strength results depends on your ability to progressively overload your muscles, meaning you need to gradually increase the physical stress you put on a muscle to keep challenging it so that it can always be adapting and getting stronger.
In strength training, there are countless ways to make that happen. “You can and will achieve progressive overload by adding sets and reps, taking less rest, using better form, or performing more challenging exercise variations, “The most effective way to achieve progressive overload, however, is just to lift heavier weights.”
It so happens that lifting heavier weights is also the easiest way to see and track your own progress over the weeks and months, and one of the best way to get that “Damn, I’m so strong!” confidence boost that comes with strength training :)
Progressive overload is built into my professional and personal weight-lifting training plans!, but if you aren’t following one or not working with a personal trainer closely, to figuring out exactly which weights to lift (along with when and exactly how to up the weight over time), it can be difficult to know exactly how to do it and you risk injury. Knowing what to expect and how to increase weight safely, is extremely important for reaching your goals and staying injury-free.
Here, I have laid out everything you need to know about choosing a starting weight, how to know when you’re ready for a heavier load, and exactly how to go about lifting heavier weights.
How to choose the right starting weight
“Let the reps dictate the load” Depending on how many reps you perform per set in your program and then the amount of weight that challenges you! That will give you a starting point regards the starting weight in the different exercises! The starting weight has to be challenging, but not to heavy! you will need to perform all of your reps with "perfect" form.
Your goals dictate the range of reps you should perform, and for how many sets you should do them: For example: To develop maximal strength, lifting very heavy for 2–6 sets of 6 or fewer reps is ideal! While lifting heavy-to-moderate weights for 3–6 sets of 8–12 reps is the way to go when it comes to building muscle size. To improve muscular endurance, or how long a muscle can work before fading out, I recommend training with 2-5 sets of 12 or more reps.
My training programs involves performing the majority of exercises in that 8–12 rep, the sweet spot for a few reasons. First, it’s important to build a solid foundation in this range before working max strength with incredibly heavy loads. In this range, you’ll lift moderate loads-weights that are probably heavier than you’ve tried lifting before, but not to heavy, so you still can perform all of your reps with "perfect" form.
Training in this range is time-efficient and allows you to get a lot of work done without the workout taking to much of your time! This rep range is middle-of-the-road, enough for muscle growth, it will give a bit of everything, improving strength and endurance.
Last but not least, most exercises are generally safe to perform in this range! I generally recommend avoiding low-rep high-weight lifts for single-joint exercises such as biceps curls and triceps extensions because such heavy weights could overstress the joints.
How to know if you’re ready for a weight increase
Newbies, get a good pump: When you first start strength training, you’ll likely notice a more dramatic increase in strength than you will at any other point in your strength-training journey, That’s largely because during the first couple of months of any strength program, the bulk of your strength gains don’t come from putting on actual muscle. Rather, early strength gains are due to a combination of neurological changes, basically your brain and muscles learning to work efficiently together so that the muscle cells fire and contract! changes also happens within the protein of the muscle!
What’s more, each person has a different upper limit to how much strength their bodies can gain. The further you are from that upper limit, or the more inexperienced you are, the more apt your body will be to grow. “As you get stronger and more experienced, it's normal for progress to slow down,”
So no matter what your training experience is, knowing when you’re ready to increase weight is as simple as counting reps and watching form. “We are all different but a good rule for when you should up the weights you use, is to see if you can perform all the reps and sets with proper form,” If you have two to three more reps left in you, then it is time to go up in weight.” And similarly, if you are performing all of your sets with rep ranges- for instance, that 8-12 range or even a 3–5 range, hitting the top of your rep range can be a sign it’s time to up your weights.
If you feel like you are ready to make weight increases with deadlifts and squats before you’re ready to do so with triceps extensions or biceps curls, don’t worry. That’s natural. Many people tend to be stronger on lower-body exercises, you will likely see faster weight increases with compound, multijointed exercises such as squats, bench presses, rows, and deadlifts than with single-joint isolation ones such as leg extensions, triceps extensions and hamstring curls. Also beware of the dangers of “ego-lifting.” It can be tempting to get caught up in moving more weight that you can do without loosing form.
“Never sacrifice technique to lift more weight"
Think of your recovery: Increasing weights in the gym is only beneficial to the point where it’s possible to recover from it, on higher intensity training days, rest more and pay attention to the common signs of overtraining: feeling drained, lack of energy, constant soreness, sudden drop in performance, and lack of motivation.
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